The truth behind fake ID checks
Published 1:10 am, Friday, October 30, 2009
Less than seven weeks before 100-plus minors were nabbed inside Bravo on Oct. 20, Fairfield police briefed the bar`s owner and bouncers on what to be looking for in fake IDs.
Lt. Thomas Mrozek said that in his nearly half-hour presentation on Sept. 3, he showed Bravo staff fake IDs that have been seized from bars and stores in town recently, described what types of holograms indicate an ID has been purchased from the Internet, discussed techniques to trip up bar-goers who offer someone else`s real ID and explained the policies of local universities that can be used to catch a minor.
Earlier this week, Bravo`s owner, Mike Constand, told the Citizen that the quality of fake IDs has become increasingly difficult to distinguish from real ones.
He said that everyone inside his bar that night had shown a valid-looking ID, turned toward a video camera and verified the card`s authenticity. He added that he`s turned in about 140 fake IDs to the Fairfield cops since January, which police spokesman Sgt. James Perez confirmed.
The thoroughness of Bravo`s fake ID detecting will ultimately be appraised by the state liquor commission. But a story published Wednesday in Fairfield University`s student newspaper, The Fairfield Mirror, suggests that procedures for some time been overly lax for some time.
"Bravo is famous for being a spot where freshmen and sophomores can pound down a few beers," wrote Margot da Cunha. "It`s one of only a few places that accepts pretty much any ID. I wouldn`t be surprised if they let you in with an index card with a picture of you and a birth date that indicates you`re over 21."
Constand did not respond to a phone call asking for comment on this story in time for press.
Mrozek said that he`s given the same lesson to more than a dozen bars in town, as well as many package stores, and once in Bridgeport. He is the police liaison to the town`s new alcohol abuse task force, Fairfield Cares.
As summer came to an end, Mrozek said, the police department sent letters to all bars and package stores in town stating that it will have zero tolerance for underage alcohol sales.
The article in The Fairfield Mirror went on to list the Bravo and the Seagrape Cafe, 1144 Reef Road, as Fairfield`s sole offerings to students. Regarding the Seagrape, da Cunha wrote, "but everyone knows better than to use a fake there."
Da Cunha did not respond to an e-mail request for comment.
Reached for comment on Wednesday, Miles Stevens, the Seagrape`s general manager, said that he hasn`t noticed an improvement in the quality of fake IDs in recent years. He and his staff did meet with Mrozek, however.
"We really check them very, very tightly," Stevens said. "You not only have to have the ID, but we ask for two forms, because it`s very rare that someone has a phony credit card to go along with a phony ID."
Stevens said that the Seagrape`s bouncers also ask for bar-goers` zip codes and zodiac signs at the door. "Most of them don`t know what the birthday is on the card," he said of people bringing fake IDs. "And therefore they certainly don`t know the birth sign."
If a bouncer has erred, Stevens continued, the bar-goer is given the option of calling the police over. "I`ll be happy to hand it back to you," Stevens said he instructs his bouncers to say. "But no one ever calls them."